Grace Mugabe’s contribution to the economic and financial decline of her country, during her tenure as First Lady, has taken various forms. She stole from the coffers of civil servants under the pay-for your house scheme in order to build her infamous “Gracelands” in Borrowdale, a wealthy suburb of Harare. The “Gracelands” is an extravagantly constructed palace that caused controversy in the country. The palace was later sold to the late Muammar Gaddafi of Libya. The second palace was completed in 2007 and was said to have been a gift to Robert Mugabe from ZANU-PF in gratitude for his political service. It was reported to have cost $26 million. She also built a lavish home for her parents in their hometown of Chivhu.
In 2002 Grace grabbed farm property previously owned by John and Eva Matthews, for herself and her family. She also owns property in Malaysia where the family frequently vacations. It is alleged that she intended to move to Malaysia with her children to escape the stress of leadership and to address fears of assassination. The Daily Telegraph called her “notorious at home for her profligacy” in the 2003 coverage of a shopping trip to Paris. She reportedly spent about $120,000 in the shopping spree. The EU has instituted sanctions banning Grace Mugabe and her husband from traveling to participating countries. The United States has instituted similar restrictions.
Besides her involvement in corruption scandals and her sinfully lavish and extravagant shopping, Grace also has her dirty linen washed in public. She has had three known extra-marital affairs as First Lady. The latest sexual scandal was with a close friend and ally of Robert Mugabe, Gideon Gono. Each man who has been accused of "consensually messing” with the First Lady has met a sudden fatal accident or fled the country.
Grace Mugabe has not only destroyed the lives of Zimbabweans but she has made it difficult for her own daughter to attend school overseas. Riots broke out at the University of Zimbabwe campus with student demonstrations outside the Embassy of China. They were demanding that Bona Mugabe should return home and study under the same pathetic conditions as her peers. The University of Hong Kong has distanced itself from this controversy although the situation has caused the family to seek help in keeping their daughter safe while in Hong Kong.
This is the legacy of Grace Mugabe.